Muriel Siebert | (1932-2013)
Muriel “Mickey” Siebert was the founder and President of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) brokerage firm that bears her name, Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc. She established the firm in 1967 when she became the first woman member of the NYSE and transformed it into a discount brokerage house on May 1, 1975, the first day that NYSE members were permitted to negotiate commissions. On December 28, 1997, she celebrated her 30th anniversary. To commemorate 30 years of service as the first woman member, she was invited to ring the closing bell on January 5, 1998. In 1977, Mickey took a leave of absence from her firm to serve five years as the first woman Superintendent of Banking for the State of New York under Governor Hugh Carey. As such, she was responsible for the safety and soundness of not only the banks, but also other financial institutions in New York State. In 1982, Mickie resigned from her government post to run for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate. This was her first campaign for political office. She polled second among three candidates in the primary. Mickey was known to pull no punches in lectures, panels and talk shows. She often exhorted the industry to utilize women more aggressively: “American business will find that women executives can be a strong competitive weapon against Japan and Germany and other countries that still limit their executive talent pool to the male 50 percent of their population.” One of Muriel Siebert’s favorite words was “risk.” She maintained that, “the real risk lies in continuing to do things the way they’ve always been done.” For Muriel Siebert, the secret to making a difference was to “take stands, take risks, take responsibility – and care deeply about how America’s big institutions affect the lives of individual people.” In 1999, while president of the New York Women’s Agenda – a coalition of over 100 women’s organizations – Muriel Siebert developed the Siebert Personal Finance Program – Taking Control of Your Financial Future, a curriculum that teaches essential financial management skills to young people. Developed through the Muriel F. Siebert Foundation, this high school program is in use in various school districts across the nation and has been adapted for middle schools and adults. In 2009, keeping with her personal agenda, the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education chose Ms. Siebert as the First Recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award for Promoting Financial Literacy, which they named after her. Throughout her career, Ms. Siebert was actively involved in a wide range of non-profit, civic and women’s organizations. She was on the boards of The Economic Club of New York, The New York State Business Council, the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Guild Hall Museum, to name only a few. She was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee of 200, the International Women’s Forum, Springboard Enterprises and the New York Women’s Forum. Muriel Siebert was also a former appointee to the New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination and the National Women’s Business Council. Over the course of her life, Ms. Siebert received countless awards and honors, including the first woman selected as “one who has made a difference” for the Working Women’s Hall of Fame. In 1994, she was inducted into the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame in the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY. She received the Sara Lee Frontrunner Award in Business which honors the service, accomplishments, and abilities of women who represent achievement and shape the future. She was also a recipient of The Athena Foundation’s highest award given to those “who open the doors of leadership opportunity for women.” Her most recent honors include the Town Hall Friend of the Arts Award, NAWBO First Signature Award for Lifetime Achievement as a pioneering women’s business owner, the Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger Award for Contributions to Family Life from Inwood House, the Pride of New York Award and, in March 2007, the “Pioneering Woman Award” from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC. In 2010 she was named one of U.S. Banker Magazine’s “25 Most Powerful Women in Finance.” Ms. Siebert’s autobiography, “Changing the Rules – Adventures of a Wall Street Maverick,” was published in November 2002 by Simon and Schuster.